Friday, May 13, 2011

Exotic Spice Cookies with Ginger, Cardamom and Rose Water, AKA The Cookies I Chose Over Lakers Playoff Tickets

Yes, it's true, these are the cookies that will make grown men cry. Not because they are so damn good (and believe me, they are), but because they are here today, a physical, tangible thing I can hold in my hand and send to my stomach, at the expense of Lakers playoff tickets. Grown men, cry away.

Allow me to explain.

I suddenly felt the urge to bake with rose water this week.

I'll never forget the day I bought the rose water. It was about a year ago I was offered last minute free tickets to a Lakers playoff game, and being the rebellious, bake-crazy girl I am, I turned down the tickets so that I could go shopping for interesting baking ingredients at a store called Surfas in Culver City. I had never been to Surfas, but I had heard about it and always wanted to go. I had been told by foodie friends that it was a foodie mecca, a wonderland of restaurant supplies and exotic ingredients and every color of the rainbow in decorating sugars.

Much to the chagrin of my friends who all would have dreamed of being my plus one at the game, not to mention the name calling I got from them, I declined the tickets and instead spent my afternoon purchasing rose water, some parchment cake pan liners, and some colorful coarse decorating sugars. Call me what you will (though please be gentle), I had a great day. And then the rose water sat in my cabinet, unused, all this time! Until now. I searched on Google for a recipe that called for rose water, and found a cookie that also required cardamom, one of my absolute favorite spices.

Well, let me tell you, I made the cookie dough, tasted a little nibble, and then stood there frozen, in shock, in awe, unable to move, in love with this cookie dough. So much so, that I wasn't sure I should bake it up into cookies. I mean, if it ain't broke, don't fix it right? The cookie dough is so perfect, why take a risk and bake it into cookies. What if the baked version isn't as good as the raw dough? What a dilemma! And get this, there is no chocolate in the recipe! What the heck! I know, something is clearly wrong with me. First, I skip Lakers playoff tickets to go grocery shopping, and then I make a non-chocolate cookie dough that's so out of this world I contemplate not baking it. Huh.

The moral of the story is: Listen to the voice inside your head. Do what you want to do. Don't listen to others. Then own your decision, never look back, and make no regrets.

And by the way, yes, I took the risk, baked the dough into cookies, and have zero regrets. Thank goodness! Because if I had made a disgusting cookie with the rose water I purchased instead of attending the basketball game, I would have felt like a fool. These cookies are chewy, full of spicy flavor, and perfect in every way. Please, indulge yourself and make them. I feel like until you do, you're going to think Happy Go Marni has lost her mind. Not that she cares what you think. ;)

Exotic Spice Cookies with Ginger, Cardamom and Rose Water
Adapted from a recipe by Camilla Saulsbury, Nacogdoches, TX, that was featured in the Food Network show Ultimate Recipe Showdown, "Episode: Cookies"
Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (I'd do 1 teaspoon because I love this spice)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, optional (I skipped this)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, optional (I skipped this)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (even uncrystallized ginger works fine - and sold at Trader Joe's)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
1 large egg
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon rose water (feel free to add more; 1 teaspoon is VERY mild)
3/4 cup turbinado (raw) sugar, for rolling (Trader Joe's sells this!)

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together: flour, ground ginger, baking soda, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander (if using), pepper (if using) and salt. Stir in the crystallized ginger and then set the bowl aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl with electric hand mixer, beat together the brown sugar, butter and shortening until fluffy. Be careful not to overbeat. Beat in the egg, honey, and rose water. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a wooden spoon to stir in the dry ingredients. Mix just until blended. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment, silicone baking mats, or spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Pour a thick layer of turbinado sugar into a small bowl. Wet your hands under the sink, shake them off but don't dry them, and then form 1 1/4-inch balls of dough. Then roll the balls in the turbinado sugar to coat completely. Place the balls about 2 inches apart. They won't flatten out that much (which is why they remain so chewy!).

Bake cookies until slightly cracked and set on top but still soft to touch, and very light golden-colored, about 9 to 11 minutes. For my oven, 9 minutes was the perfect amount of time. Leave the cookies on the sheets for one minute to cool, then use a spatula to transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Whisk the dry ingredients together...

Add the crystallized ginger and stir to combine...

Set aside...

Combine the butter, shortening, and dark brown sugar...

Beat until smooth...
Blend in the egg, rose water, and honey...
Remove from the mixer and stir in the dry ingredients...

Cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge at least an hour or overnight...

After the dough is chilled, remove from fridge and set up your work station with a bowl of turbinado sugar...
Roll balls of dough in the turbinado sugar and place evenly apart on a baking sheet...
Bake at 350 degrees F for 9-11 minutes, then let cool...



Mom said...

The cookie ball in the second picture looks like it is going to pop off my screen...and I wish it would! I love rose water, too, and those cookies look perfect. I hope you save me one; I'll be down there before you know it!!

The Duo Dishes said...

The rose water is definitely a touched that most of us probably would not have thought to pair with the spices. You could try these as cookie truffles one day, so you don't even have to bake the dough. :)

bcj. said...

"The moral of the story is: Listen to the voice inside your head. Do what you want to do. Don't listen to others. Then own your decision, never look back, and make no regrets."

Yes, yes, yes and YES! It's so true.

These look pretty impressive, but I'm still reeling from the double chocolate banana bread in the previous post. Wow.

Camilla said...

Hi Marni,

A friend of mine reads your blog and she told me about your post of my cookies. I am thrilled to pieces that you love them as much as I do. I agree with you about the dough--I have eaten a lot of this dough raw, at Xmastime especially :) And I'm so glad you are hooked on rose water--it is really wonderful in a simple syrup over berries or other fruit. Have fun! Cheers, Camilla :)

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